Overwhelmed by the responsibilities of running a ranch on her own, Laurel Tracey decides to hire a convict—a man who’s just scary enough to take care of squatters and just desperate enough to agree to a one year post.
The years following the war have been hard on Laurel Tracey. Both her brother and her father died in battle, and her mother passed away shortly after receiving word of their demise. Laurel has been trying to run her two hundred acre ranch as best she can.
When she discovers that squatters have settled in her north pasture and have no intention of leaving, Laurel decides to use the last of her money to free a prisoner from the local jail. If she agrees to offer him room and board for one year, he will have to work for her to pay off his debt.
Former soldier Thomas Baker knows he’s in trouble when he finds himself jailed because he couldn’t pay a few fines. Laurel’s offer might be his only ticket out. Though she’s everything he ever dreamed of in a woman—sweet and tender-hearted, yet strong—he’s determined to remain detached, work hard on her behalf, and count the days until he’s free again.
But when cattle start dying and Laurel’s life is threatened, Thomas realizes more than just his freedom is on the line. Laurel needs someone to believe in her and protect her property. And it isn’t long before Laurel realizes that Thomas Baker is far more than just a former soldier. He’s a trustworthy hero, and he needs more than just his freedom—he needs her love and care too.
Post-Civil-War Texas is a tough place for Laurel Tracey, whose brother and father died in the war, and whose mother passed away shortly thereafter. Though 200 acres of land is legally hers, squatters have trespassed, cattle are dying mysteriously, and a former admirer has returned to press his suit for her hand. No wilting lily, Laurel frees a prisoner, former Confederate soldier Thomas Baker, by hiring him as an indentured servant for one year in hopes that he will scare off those threatening her land and help her get the ranch back in shape. A bit short-tempered, Thomas nevertheless proves to have a most worthy character and an honorable history. A sweet attraction flares between them immediately, and their shared faith gives them a foundation from which to withstand their trials. But the development of their relationship lacks spark and is too predictable, as are the overall plot and the identity of her nemesis. The resolution comes far too easily, reflecting the simplicity of the one-plot story. But Thomas's war buddies spark curiosity and interest, which bodes well for Gray's Lone Star Hero Love Stories series overall.